Circular RNAs in cardiovascular diseases

Pharmacol Ther. 2022 Apr;232:107991. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2021.107991. Epub 2021 Sep 27.


In eukaryotes, precursor mRNAs (pre-mRNAs) produce a unique class of biologically active molecules namely circular RNAs (circRNAs) with a covalently closed-loop structure via back-splicing. Because of this unconventional circular form, circRNAs exhibit much higher stability than linear RNAs due to the resistance to exonuclease degradation and thereby play exclusive cellular regulatory roles. Recent studies have shown that circRNAs are widely expressed in eukaryotes and display tissue- and disease-specific expression patterns, including in the cardiovascular system. Although numerous circRNAs are discovered by in silico methods, a limited number of circRNAs have been studied. This review intends to summarize the current understanding of the characteristics, biogenesis, and functions of circRNAs and delineate the practical approaches for circRNAs investigation. Moreover, we discuss the emerging roles of circRNAs in cardiovascular diseases.

Keywords: Cardiovascular diseases; Circular RNAs (circRNAs).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / genetics
  • Cardiovascular System* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA / metabolism
  • RNA Splicing
  • RNA, Circular / genetics


  • RNA, Circular
  • RNA